updated on May 8, 2012
Chairperson of the Heads of Christian Denominations and founder of Word of Life International Ministries, Dr Goodwill Shana, told The Herald the deadline for the transition from old marriage certificates to new ones made it difficult for some marriage officers to collect the new certificates before scheduled weddings.
“It would have been proper if we had one-on-one consultations between the Registrar-General’s Office and Heads of Christian Denominations. We obviously would have wanted some time for the new certificates to be operational considering other logistical constraints,” Dr Shana said.
He, however, hailed the RG’s Office for confronting marriages of convenience head-on. He said they expected all marriage officers to comply with the law on new certificates.
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference Secretary-General, Bishop Frederick Chiromba, also thinks the new certificates had complicated things. “We feel its creating more work and inconveniences for marrying couples and marriage officers as they are now expected to produce passport-size photos and finger prints. We understand that the intention is to fight marriages of convenience but one would hope to see these things go when the situation normalises.”
Most marriage officers, Bishop Chiromba said, would have wanted more time for the transition from the old certificates. He said announcements of such changes were supposed to be made through the Government Gazette.
Reverend Simon Mutongi Jena of Chitungwiza Baptist Church said the new marriage certificate will curb marriages of convenience. He said the deadline had made, however, it difficult for some marriage officers to comply with the new arrangements.
According to IN TOUCH WITH CHURCH AND FAITH #172, a Jescom publication, all marriage officers, including priests who marry Christian couples in church as well as civilly, have to follow new rules laid down by government: bridegroom and bride have to bring passport-size photos. They will be finger-printed on their marriage certificates. – Marriage officers receive new certificates for which they have to supply passport-size photos. Only ministers of religion who have passed a test and can present a letter from their church authorities may be marriage officers.
No priest may marry members of the Church without at the same time marrying them civilly. Mere church certificates are not recognized by the state.
New marriage registers are being issued to marriage officers, as well as forms to document marriage banns. The Registrar General wishes to stop certain abuses (e.g. “marriages of convenience”).